Winner of the 2014 Western Writers of America Spur Award!

From Chapter 44:

  Abolitionist. She’d never seen it spelled out, but recently she’d heard it whispered about town. There were abolitionists about. Everyone knew it. Churning up trouble. Inciting insurrection. Northern seditionists.
  All those years, the word had meant white people who wanted to end slavery, including those willing to help and hide runaway slaves. Why else were captured slaves branded R and white men branded A? The desire for Mexico or Canada had left her. What could be sweeter than freedom? Helping others achieve it? Or vexing, infuriating the slavers? Killing? Burning? Branding, even? Now there was something sweet to think on. And what could freedom mean for her when her babies were scattered all over the South. If they were still alive, and she’d never know. She’d stay put a while.
  The idea came to her one night, sitting in her room, staring at a candle flame. Just a small brand in a hidden place. Three separate, straight marks, if she could hold steady. A hot nail. Three marks. She couldn’t make the wound too serious. She had to be able to work like nothing had happened, like she hadn’t burned herself. She chose the inside of her right thigh a few inches above her knee.
  The first burn felt clean, purifying, and smelled like his burning palm.   The hiss startled her, then she remembered. She reheated the nail twice, holding it with a folded potholder, and finished the brand.
  She pressed a wet hand towel to her burn, rewetted it several times before the pain subsided enough that she unclenched her jaw and drew deep, steady breaths, then she daubed on lard.
  Still, the burns kept her from sound sleep, but each time they woke her she felt a satisfaction as sharp as her pain. She’d done this to herself. Tomorrow when she went to him – or the next day or whenever she could get away, she would pull up her dress and show him. A. And if anyone cared to notice, should anyone prepare her for burial, when that time came, assuming she wasn’t hanged and burned and fed to the hogs, or weighted down and thrown into the river, they would know what she was – and wasn’t.
  She stopped dreaming of burning flesh.

Silent We Stood

ISBN 978-0-89672-833-2 - $29.95 (Hardcover)

Texas Tech University Press (2013)

On July 8, 1860, Dallas, Texas burned. Three slaves were accused of arson and hanged without a trial. Today, most historians attribute the fire to carelessness. Texas was the darkest corner of the Old South, too remote and violent for even the bravest abolitionists.

Yet North Texas newspapers commonly reported runaway slaves, and travelers in South Texas wrote of fugitives heading to Mexico.

Perhaps a few prominent people were all too happy to call the fire an accident.

Silent We Stood weaves the tale of a small band of abolitionists working in secrecy within Dallas’s close-knit society. There’s Joseph Shaw, an undertaker and underground railroad veteran with a shameful secret; Ig Bodeker, a charismatic, melancholic preacher; Rachel Bodeker, a fierce abolitionist, Ig’s wife, and Joseph Shaw’s lover; Rebekah, a freed slave who’ll sacrifice everything for the cause; Samuel Smith, a crypto-freedman whose love for Rebekah exacts a terrible cost; and, towering above them all, a near-mythical one-armed runaway who haunts area slavers and brings hope to those dreaming of freedom.

With war looming and lives hanging in the balance, ideals must be weighed against friendship and love, and brutal decisions yield secrets that must be taken to the grave.

"I regard Silent We Stood as being among the finest Civil War novels I have ever read"
  • David Madden, Civil War Book Review

  • "Filled with suspense and human drama, this novel could become a classic work of pre-Civil War America... [Silent We Stood] has all the breathtaking cruelties and valor a lover of historical novels can hope for. Highly recommended."
  • Historical Novel Society

  • "Henry Chappell’s recent third novel, Silent We Stood, paints an engrossing, fact-based and frequently tense portrait of slavery and anti-slavery sentiments in North Texas in 1860."
  • Si Dunn, The Dallas Morning News

  • "Using as his background the political turbulence preceding and following the disastrous Dallas fire of 1860, Henry Chappell has blended real and imaginary events and characters to craft a suspenseful novel."
  • Donald E. Reynolds, author of Texas Terror: The Slave Insurrection Panic of 1860 and the Secession of the Lower South


    H.C. discusses Silent We Stood with Maggie Martin of Houston Matters

    H.C. discusses Silent We Stood and the writing process on “Writing on the Air,” 7/​9/​14

    Selected Work

    "I regard Silent We Stood as being among the finest Civil War novels I have ever read"
  • David Madden, Civil War Book Review
  • "Blood Kin is historical fiction at its best."
  • Bruce Winders, Historian and Curator, The Alamo
  • "The finest book on buffalo hunting and the resulting conflict with the Comanches that I have ever read."
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    "Sharp and colorful also describe the economical prose of sports and wildlife writer Henry Chappell"
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